Monday, May 14, 2012


Tiramisu may be a cliche' on Italian restaurant menus - but there's a good reason why it was so ubiquitous during the late 1970s and 1980s. It tastes DIVINE - like eating a cloud dipped in coffee and chocolate and slathered in a rich, eggy, boozed up zabaglione. At least that's how my version of tiramisu tastes. It holds true to its Italian translation as a "pick me up."And I do hope you try it. It does require a few bowls to be dirtied, but the end result is totally worth it. Save a bit for yourself to eat in solitude - no distractions allowed. That's the best way to savor every morsel of this heavenly dessert.

This recipe is based on a tiramisu I ate 20 years ago in Pettoranello, Princeton, N.J.'s Italian sister-city. We were there celebrating the newly established relationship and were invited to break bread at the home of local residents. Anna Maria Canzano and her family invited us into their home and created a memorable meal for us, starting with octopus salad, two pasta courses, a veal dish, several vegetables and two desserts - a baba au rum and this tiramisu. Over the years, I've tweaked the recipe a bit to indulge my preference for a boozy tiramisu - I use bourbon. But if you want to serve it to tea-totalers, or children, by all means leave out the alchohol.  

One of the first steps is making what's essentially a zabaglione. You beat the egg yolks with sugar over a double boiler until they're silky and pale yellow, then add the booze.

Fold in the mascarpone and egg whites.

Make some strong espresso, let it cool, then add more booze (bourbon is my first choice, rum second). Quickly swirl the savoiardi biscuits in the liquid, but not for too long or they're fall apart.

Line the pan with the biscuits (or start with the egg mixture and then biscuits next - your choice)

Repeat the process with more zabaglione, more biscuits, ending with a layer of zabaglione.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder and let it sit, covered, in the fridge overnight.

Optional - decorate with pansies or other flowers.

Retreat to a quiet corner and indulge. It may taste sinfully delicious, but no confessions necessary.


printable recipe here

  • 16 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature

  • 14 oz. package of savoiardi bisciuts

  • 6 eggs, separated

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1/4 cup liquor (I used bourbon, but dark rum would be great too

  • 2 cups espresso coffee

  • 1/2 cup more of liquor

  • unsweetened cocoa powder

  1. Separate the eggs and cook the yellows with the sugar, over a double boiler, beating until ivory colored.

  2. Add the 1/4 cup liquor and whisk over simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken. Cool.

  3. Separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff.

  4. Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites. 

  5. Mix the coffee and the 3/4 liquor and dip the biscuits into it, quickly coating both sides.

  6. In a large serving dish, place a layer of the biscuits, a layer of the mascarpone mixture and then repeat, ending with a layer of the mascarpone mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. (Note, I have been making it for years starting with the mascarpone mixture on the bottom and ending with the biscuit layer on top, but I think I now like it better if you start with the biscuit layer on the bottom and end up with the mascarpone mixture on top. It's up to you. Either way, it's delicious.)

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  1. That is one of my favorite desserts! Your Tiramis├╣ looks fantastic.



  2. Hello
    Thanks for the Tiramisu recipe.
    I'll create one for sure, my kids are gonna like it :)
    If you don't mind, can I submit your Tiramisu photo in ?
    It's a food photography site full of all DIY food pictures from members around the world. Or perhaps you'd like to submit by yourself? Let me know when you did, so I can share it.

  3. Sore spot. Many of these have I ruined. Best that I go now.

  4. Very similar to the tiramisu I make with zabaglione. I can't do the raw egg versions. What interested me the most was your use of bourbon - a booze I have never used. If you think it's good - it must be good! I will try it with Bourbon! Thanks for sharing. It must have been wonderful at that dinner all those years ago. THe menu sounds fantastic.

  5. Thanks for sharing! This does indeed look good! And love how you cooked the eggs!

  6. I love your version, I'm not a raw egg person and always skip it. I wouldn't be able to cut such a neat square I'm afraid there would be spoon marks all over as I retreat in a corner and savor every bite!

  7. I love this version - both alcoholic and non. (Bourbon - really? Surprised! Always used Brandy. And it was a bit of a biting flavor). And thank-you - no cream! In fact - as you remember your menu from "back then," I'd love it all.

  8. one of my favourite dessert!Amazing!!! have a good week...

  9. What a terrific post, and what a very fine Step by Step photo essay. Brava! I so enjoy Tiramisu. It is one of those desserts that surely did catch on now didn't it? I have a funny story: Rose Levy Beranbaum told me that at one point many years ago she was considering it for inclusion is one of her books. She asked ABruzzese food writer and cook Anna Teresa Callen what she thought of including it. Her response - no, it is too everyday, too common thing to include,. So Rose left it out! And so it goes. Rose and I got a kick out of that!

    Your recipe looks great, very rich with lots of flavor. I see you use bourbon. I used to use a combination of Myers' Rum and Kahlua. But then I tried Punch Abruzzo, and it is quite unique. The Punch adds coffee and chocolate notes, along with spice and citrus. Give it a try sometime. I bet you will enjoy it.

    Thanks for a truly enjoyable post.

  10. Hi Linda, In reading the comments I see that some of your readers avoid raw eggs. I suggest Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs. Current CDC recommendation is that eggs be cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees to kill salmonella. Davidson's Eggs are pasteurized rendering moot the question of Salmomella contamination. The pasteurization process does slightly inhibit the volume to which the whites will beat. However this can be mitigated by adding an extra white and/or 1 teaspoon cream of tartar. The yolks need no special treatment. So for those who are concerned about raw or undercooked eggs, this might be something to explore. Davidson's is distributing their eggs to more and more cities (U.S. only) all the time. Their web site is:

  11. Linda this is one of my very favorite things in the world...I am going to try your recipe the next chance I get. Oh my...I am craving this now...

  12. Thanks for linking up to our bloghop! If I know where the eggs come from, I have no problem w/ using raw egg. That said, in my estimation, tho, using raw egg you pretty much have to eat this thing up w/in a day or so, no?

    Be that as it may, the egg-less versions don't come close to the creamy, fluffy original - but they're all still pretty good. :)

  13. Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts, ever since I first tasted it on a trip to Italy in the 1970's :) I love your pansy decorations that add a nice springtime touch!

  14. This is a heavenly dessert! I've never made a 'true' Tiramisu so I've got to give this a whirl!

  15. 'Divine' would be an understatement and yours looks simply scrumptious! One of my favorite desserts.

  16. I'm always ready for a pick-me-up, Linda, especially of this nature. I like to use Kahula, too.

  17. This looks incredible! One of my favorite desserts!

  18. This is one of my favorite desserts. Looks so yummy.